Berjaya Hotel suspended, fined over 'Poblacion Girl' quarantine breach

Published January 5, 2022, 10:43 AM

by Alexandria Dennise San Juan

The Department of Tourism (DOT) suspended on Wednesday, Jan. 5, the accreditation of Berjaya Makati Hotel after one of its guests, who later tested positive for COVID-19, skipped quarantine and went to a party where those who came in close contact with her have also been infected.

Berjaya Makati Hotel

The DOT also revoked Berjaya’s permit as a multiple-use hotel and was fined “equivalent to twice the rack rate of its most expensive room” for failing to stop a guest from breaking quarantine rules.

A show cause order was recently issued by the DOT against Berjaya after reports that a returning overseas Filipino was seen attending a party in Poblacion, Makati when she was supposed to be in the quarantine hotel.

The traveler, which has since been identified as Gwyneth Chua, was supposed to be under mandatory isolation after arriving from the United States, as required by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

In a letter dated Dec. 29, Berjaya even gave assurance that Chua was following strict health protocols. However, the management later apologized and confirmed the “quarantine skipping incident.”

In its reply to the DOT, Berjaya admitted that Chua left the hotel at 11:45 p.m. on Dec. 22 or only 15 minutes after checking in as seen on the CCTV footage.

“Neither did the hotel security personnel nor the front lobby call her attention, and neither was there any effort to report the incident to the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ):, even after her return three days later,” the Department said.

Investigation also showed that Chua booked for a mandatory five-day quarantine at the hotel until Dec. 27, later returned on the night of Dec. 25, before undergoing the required RT-PCR test on Dec. 26. Her result came out positive the next day.

“The statements made by the hotel management and its public apology were an admission of not just the facts of the incident but as well as their lapses in their responsibility as an accredited establishment of the DOT,” it added.

A copy of the decision was served to Berjaya Hotel, which has 15 working days to appeal, the DOT said.

Meanwhile, the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) already filed a case against Chua, her parents, her boyfriend, and five other persons for violating Republic Act 11332 or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act.

The CIDG also urged all the individuals who had close contact with Chua, especially those who were infected, to file separate cases against her for violating the quarantine protocol that compromised their safety.